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   The Amazing Stir Fry
   By John Havel

  Stir frying is one of the quickest and healthiest way to prepare a meal and is easily adapted to most cooking styles. There are many advantages to eating stir-fried foods.

  First, oil is kept to a minimum. Secondly, the food is cooked on high heat thus preserving its natural flavor and texture. Stir fries are also great fun to make. The sizzling and the energetic jostling of food within the large surface area of your wok makes for an evening of frolic in the kitchen! And then of course, it's just plain easy cooking which is what this is all about.

  The process is simple. Keep your ingredients chopped and ready and handy. Prepare sauces in advance. Start with sauteeing garlic and/or ginger in hot oil. Add your choice of meat, cook until almost done, and remove to the side. Add your veggies that take the longest to cook and work your way down to those that don't. Add some sherry and then a sauce that thickens at the last minute and you're ready to serve.

  One of the things I like best about stir frying is that you can pair pretty much any meat with almost any vegetable. Think of the possibilities! Beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or seafood with broccoli, green beans, onions, snow peas, bean sprouts ... the choices are limited only by your imagination. The main rule to remember is that in order for the food to cook evenly, quickly and aesthetically, the pieces must all be as close in shape and size as possible.

  You can't have a good stir fry without using high heat. This is why a wok is used. The shape produces a small, hot area at the bottom which allows some of the food to be seared by intense heat while using relatively little fuel. Curved sides allow a person to cook without having to "chase the food around the pan" since bite-sized or finely chopped stir fry ingredients usually tumble back to the center of the wok when agitated.

  This isn’t all you need to know about stir frying by a long shot, but it's a good start. The sort of stir fry you will make out of using this method is one that has a sauce that is highly flavored from multiple reductions and a single deglazing. The sauce will not be plentiful, but will instead glaze the food ingredients and cling tightly to them. The intense flavor more than makes up for a lack of sauce. This is the way a lot of Chinese homestyle cooking is done, with very little, but very flavorful sauces.

Beef with Broccoli
   3/4 pound flank steak
 Marinade:
   1 tablespoon dry sherry
   2 tablespoons water
   2 tablespoons soy sauce
   3 tablespoons cornstarch

 Other:
   4 tablespoons oil for stir frying, or as needed
   3/4 pound fresh broccoli
   1 clove garlic, minced
   2 tablespoons dry sherry

 Sauce:
   1/2 cup chicken stock
   2 tablespoons soy sauce
   1 tablespoon cornstarch

  Cut the beef across the grain into thin slices. Add the marinade ingredients and marinate for about 15 minutes.

  While the beef is marinating, prepare the other ingredients. Cut the broccoli flowerets into small pieces and cut the stalk diagonally into thin slices. In a bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients.

  Heat the wok. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the heated wok. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and stir fry until golden brown. Add the beef in one layer to the bottom of the wok. Don't touch it for about 45 seconds. Then, stir fry until it changes color and is nearly cooked through. Remove and set aside.

 Add 2 tablespoons oil to the wok. When the oil is hot, add the broccoli. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons sherry and cover the wok quickly. Cook, covered, for about 2 minutes. Add beef back to the wok to briefly reheat. Add sauce mixture and stir until thickened. Serve immediately with hot white rice.

Music By John Havel


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